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Nitrogen isotope analysis of 125,000-year-old tooth enamel from the Middle Palaeolithic Neanderthal site of Neumark-Nord 2, Germany

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Leichliter,  Jennifer N.
Climate Geochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Lüdecke,  Tina
Climate Geochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Martinez-Garcia,  Alfredo
Climate Geochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Leichliter, J. N., Lüdecke, T., Foreman, A. D., Kindler, L., Tutken, T., Tacail, T., et al. (2022). Nitrogen isotope analysis of 125,000-year-old tooth enamel from the Middle Palaeolithic Neanderthal site of Neumark-Nord 2, Germany. American journal of biological anthropology, 177, 107-107. doi:10.1002/ajpa.24514.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-646E-B
Abstract
This study represents one of the first applications of a novel oxidation-denitrification method to measure the nitrogen isotope composition of tooth enamel in the archaeological record. Efforts to measure nitrogen isotopes in tooth enamel via traditional methods have not been feasible given the low nitrogen content of enamel (!0.01 % wt.) Here we present nitrogen isotope data of tooth enamel, which signiܪcantly expands the existing geochemical dataset at Neumark Nord, a high-resolution Middle Paleolithic (c125 kyr) site in Germany and provides insight into the structure of the paleo-food web at this locality, allowing us to make inferences about the environmental and ecological context of Neanderthals prior to the arrival of anatomically modern humans in Europe. In our study, we measured Ƚ 15 N enamel values in the tooth enamel of representative herbivore (n " 5), omnivore (n " 1), and carnivore taxa (n " 2) to reconstruct the paleoecology of the fauna at Neumark Nord 2. Our results show that herbivores have, on average, lower mean Ƚ 15 N enamel values (x" 5.3 ± 0.9 ‰) than omnivores (x" 7.7 ± 1.6 ‰) and carnivores (x" 6.6 ± 1.8 ‰). A previous study of herbivore Ƚ 15 N collagen at Neumark Nord 2 by Britton et al., 2012 found evidence for differences in dietary behavior between bovids and equids. We found similar patterning in Ƚ 15 N enamel values for the same taxa although the magnitude of the difference between taxa is somewhat smaller in enamel (1.2 vs. 2.0 ‰) compared to collagen.